Disaster Preparedness for Florida Businesses

Preparedness can mean the difference between keeping everything you worked a lifetime to build and losing it overnight. At the Florida SBDC Network, we urge all small businesses to prepare for disasters before they occur. Doing so can increase your chances of surviving a major disaster event, and can even provide you with a competitive advantage over your competitors. Staying informed, creating a plan, and preparing a business-ready “records-to-go” box are things you can do to help your business be ready when disaster strikes.

Stay Informed:

  • www.nhc.noaa.gov – Get the latest weather updates at the National Hurricane Center.
  • FEMA App – Preparedness tips, shelter information, and weather alerts.
  • Florida Division of Emergency Management Latest Updates: Get the latest information on any state emergency activation, including evacuation zones, road closures, mobile access, shelters, contact information and more.
  • www.FloridaDisaster.org – The state’s official source of general and specific information for individuals and businesses from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
  • FloridaDisaster.biz – provides businesses, small and large, easy access to critical information before, during and after a disaster. FloridaDisaster biz is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM). Click here to learn more and register your business today.
  • 800-342-3557 – The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) is a toll-free hotline activated at the time of an emergency to provide an additional resource for those in Florida to receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding an emergency or disaster situation impacting the State of Florida.
  • 850-815-4925 – State Emergency Contacts – During an activation of the State Emergency Operations center, the Florida Private Sector Hotline is activated.

Create a Plan:

Businesses should consider several elements in preparing for a disaster. Not only is it important to protect the staff, building, data, and inventory of a company, it is also critical to prepare a plan to continue operations following the disaster. A good plan may include provisions to relocate to a pre-identified site, retrieve data, including employee, customer and vendor records; and a way to operate efficiently with a smaller staff of key individuals. Below are two online templates to help you get started.

  • Get A Plan – Get a Plan assists businesses in developing a family and/or business plan utilizing the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s online templates. Utilize the preparedness app FDEM Google Play | iTunes
  • Ready.gov/Business – Ready Business assists businesses in developing a preparedness program by providing tools to create a plan that addresses the impact of many hazards.

Prepare a Business-Ready “Records-To-Go” Box:

After a disaster occurs, you may need disaster assistance to help your business rebuild, recover, and reopen. Every business should have a fire- and waterproof Business-Ready “Records-To-Go” box that includes essential information and documents necessary for business to continue and/or when applying for state and federal assistance after a disaster.

Records needed to continue business:
  • Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, and Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Emergency contact list of employees and key customers
  • Insurance policies and agent information
  • List of suppliers and vendors
  • Customer records
  • Back-up computer systems and data files
  • Bank records
When applying for state and federal business disaster loans, customary information needed includes:
  • the business’ physical address
  • tax identification numbers
  • legal structure or incorporation papers
  • name, social security number, contact information and percentage of ownership for each owner; and
  • list of business key creditors and vendors
Customary documentation needed when applying for state and federal business disaster loans includes:
  • business tax returns
  • personal tax returns for each owner
  • employee verification documentation (e.g. IRS Form 941, W-3s, W-2s)
  • schedule of liabilities and debts of the business; and
  • current and year-to-date financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statements)

For more helpful tips on how businesses can protect their assets, support their employees, and safeguard critical business processes, review our Dare to Prepare Flyer.

Additional Resources to Help Businesses Stay Informed and Prepare:

  • Disaster Preparedness for Small Businesses Webinar – The Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU), a member of the Florida SBDC Network, has prepared a short 25-minute webinar with business preparedness tips. To view the video, please click here.
  • Disaster Assistance App – As part of its service offering, the Florida SBDC offers Bizaster, a free mobile disaster assistance app. Bizaster, available in both English and Spanish for Android and iOS, features risk assessments, customizable checklists, and other resources to help businesses prepare, respond, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. Bizaster can be downloaded from the App StoreGoogle Play.
  • Free Email Continuity Program for Businesses – The AppRiver Digital Disaster Recovery Program is an emergency email continuity program provided free by AppRiver to businesses facing imminent natural disasters. Businesses threatened by approaching hurricanes or other catastrophic events may simply redirect their email to AppRiver through our secure data centers. Once the danger passes and connectivity is restored, AppRiver will forward all outage-period e-mail activity to the company’s e-mail server, free of charge.
  • Florida 511 – Information on roadway conditions and closures is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on Florida 511. Drivers may dial 511 from their mobile phones to receive updates. 511 is a free resource, however, cell phone minutes and text message charges may apply. Updates are also available on the web at www.FL511.comGoogle Play | iTunes
  • www.expedia.com/florida – VISIT Florida has activated the Expedia/VISIT Florida Hotel Accommodation Web Portal to support evacuation orders.
  • 1-866-9-NO-SCAM – The Florida Price Gouging Hotline has been activated for Hurricane Dorian.
  • 1-877-693-5236 – Insurance Helpline
  • Florida Storms – Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Google Play | iTunes

We’re Here to Help. Start Here.

  • If you are a new business, visit the New Business section of our website.
  • If you are an existing business, visit the Existing Business section.
  • Once completed, you will complete the online Request for Consulting application that will be forwarded to the Florida SBDC that serves your area.

Have questions?

Please contact your local Florida SBDC office or call our disaster hotline at (850) 898-3479, toll-free at 866-737-7232 or Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.